A total of 1,220 people received their COVID-19 vaccination on Sunday 28 March at Merton’s biggest pop-up clinic to date, held in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s Baitul Future Mosque in Morden.
NHS vaccinators worked from 8am to 8pm to administer the jabs to community members and local people aged over 50, as well as health and care workers and other eligible groups – an average of more than 100 vaccinations an hour. The day followed an equally successful event at the mosque a month ago, when more than 1,000 people were vaccinated.
As Mahmood Rafiq, head of external relations for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, explained, orchestrating the event was a “huge logistical operation,” bringing together 200 volunteers – from youth groups to elder members. As well as managing the event on the day, volunteers contacted eligible people in advance, helping to boost trust in the vaccine programme.
According to Mahmood: “The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community supports the COVID-19 vaccination programme and prays for its success in ending this terrible pandemic. We had a steady stream of people coming throughout the day; thanks to our volunteers who rang everyone ahead. Since last time – the message has got out by word of mouth. The partnership we have with the NHS in South West London is very positive, that collaboration has really put people at ease.”
Among those receiving the vaccine was Kunal, who works in a local primary school. He had, “no doubts whatsoever,” about accepting his invitation. “I’m really happy to be here because, basically, I’m overweight, I’m Asian, my parents are diabetic – so I’ve been worried recently. Our school is a stone’s-throw away, and a lot of the community’s children go there. So, it’s a happy circle – getting my vaccine here at the mosque, then teaching in the community.”
Manahal, who volunteered as a steward on the day, said: “I volunteer here in the mosque, anytime anyone needs me. I had Covid myself. For me it wasn’t too bad but so many people are dying around the world. I think if we can do anything to avoid it, to minimise the risk, we should. I know there has been lots of speculation about AstraZeneca or Pfizer but I think we should trust the research that’s been put into the vaccines and trust our NHS.”
Sunday saw the clocks go forward, so the clinic meant an early start for the vaccination team. Merton’s lead nurse, Fiona White said: “We were up at 6am – so really 5am. But it’s wonderful to be here. The mosque is fantastically well organised. They provide us with refreshments and food, and the volunteers have adapted really well, helping us with everything from IT to infection control. It’s a great opportunity to meet the community and work with them again going forward.”
In addition to this event, NHS vaccination teams hold pop-up clinics in a range of venues including, churches, community centres, mosques, temples and homeless shelters. Watch our films of clinics at Colliers Wood Community Centre and the Shree Ganapathy Temple, Wimbledon to find out more.